Courses: FYS

College of Arts & Sciences | First-Year Seminars | Courses: First-Year Seminars

First-Year Seminars offered spring 2018 are listed in order of the Core Area they meet. Questions can also be addressed to the First-Year Seminar Program Coordinator, Associate Professor of Philosophy Jeffrey Paris.

Spring 2018 Courses

Core A1 - Public Speaking

COMS 195-01 Sports Talk
CRN # 22392
John Ryan
Mon., Wed., & Fri. 11:45 a.m.–12:50 p.m.

Sports Talk uses the world of sports to investigate public discourse. You will use the rhetoric of athletes, coaches, owners, and fans as a springboard into the study of public speech and public communication. The class emphasizes a critical approach as students immerse themselves in the history of sports communication from the early twentieth century up to the present. Students will have the opportunity to explore the historical and social changes that have been inspired by our national fascination with sports. We will visit local venues and examine what these facilities say about our priorities and our values.

Core A2 - Rhetoric and Composition

RHET 195-01 Sidewalk Rhetoric: Walking, Chalking, Crawling and Other Acts of Discourse and Dissent
CRN #20108
Nicole Mauro
Mon., Wed., & Fri. 11:45 a.m.–12:50 p.m.

This course uses the sidewalk to explore the various, often subversive, forms of argument occurring in our urban landscape. We use sidewalks to move from place to place, but sidewalks are also the places where we manufacture and maintain (as well as disrupt) civilized social discourse.  They are the places where we observe, listen, live, perform, play, buy and sell.  Interdisciplinary works about sidewalks and urban landscapes will inspire students to engage in issues that occur on, and because of, sidewalks, and consider how (and by whom) sidewalks are “supposed” to be used, why the irresistible canvas that is a sidewalk sparks social critique and the expression of personal sentiment (as seen in the form of the stencils and “guerilla” art famously and spontaneously appearing on San Francisco’s sidewalks, including ones close to USF).

RHET 195-02 Language and Power
CRN # 22391
Nicole Gonzales Howell
Tue. & Thu. 9:55–11:40 a.m.

This FYS examines the rhetoric of nationalism and the ways in which language and power are entwined. We will discursively analyze a diverse range of texts (laws, photographs, advertisements, films): who writes these texts, for what purpose, and with what agenda? How do we analyze past events through the lens of historical context and also current perspectives? How does inclusion/exclusion of certain events, perspectives, and voices impact the outcome of different texts? With a specific focus on how the rhetoric of nationalism has affected (and continues to affect) Asian Pacific Americans, we will link these discourses with other contexts within the U.S. and abroad and consider why issues of cultural (mis)representation must be addressed as we strive for social justice. Together with guest speakers and trips to local sites, we will critically discuss language and power, interact with primary and secondary sources, and craft papers in response to these course themes.

Core D1 - Philosophy

PHIL 195-01 Minds and Machines
CRN # 21326
Rebecca Mason
Tue. & Thu. 12:45–2:30 p.m.

You spend your entire life inside your own head. There is nothing that you know more intimately than the contents of your own mind: your beliefs, your memories, your desires, your fears, your pains and pleasures. Despite the fact that you are directly acquainted with your thoughts and experiences, the human mind is in many ways more mysterious than even the far reaches of the universe. In this course, we will investigate the nature of the mind, and the relationship between the mind, the brain, and the body. We will also critically examine some of the ethical and social implications of artificial intelligence. The course will culminate in a field trip to the Ford Motor Company Research and Innovation Center where students will have the opportunity to discuss these topics with some of the researchers, engineers and scientists who grapple with them in practice.

PHIL 195-02 God, Science, and the Meaning of Life
CRN # 21327
Jennifer Fisher
Tue. & Thu. 4:35–6:20 p.m.

According to our best scientific understanding, your thoughts while reading this course description are simply very complex chemical signals in your brain. And yet, many people find it hard to give up the hope that there’s more. Is there a God to hear these thoughts of yours, a God who can readily give your life meaning and purpose? Does meaning and purpose depend on there being a God at all? In this course, we explore these questions through careful examination of contemporary and historical philosophical texts. Discussions in class will be supplemented by out of class activities including field trips to local science museums and films.

PHIL 195-03 What is Wisdom?
CRN # 21328
Thomas Cavanaugh
Thu. 8:00–11:40 a.m.

Literally, philosophy means the love of wisdom. So, philosophy is about our desire for knowledge, like wisdom. What is wisdom? Who is wise? Does wisdom make us happy? Is ignorance bliss? Why pursue wisdom? Wanting wisdom, yet not sure of what it is, we will ask these and other questions: does suffering lead to wisdom? does wisdom comfort the wise person? does the wise person comfort others? are science and technology wisdom? do they require wisdom to be used well? how does your USF education fit into a search for wisdom? is wisdom worth pursuing? We will ask these questions relying on Socrates, Confucius, Descartes, and the French existentialist Simone Weil; by reading the Tao Te Ching and novels such as Brave New World; by watching movies like The Matrix and Gattaca. We will also visit the San Francisco Asian Art Museum to see fascinating ancient objects related to Confucianism.

Core E - Social Sciences

ENVA 195-01 Food & Farming in San Francisco
CRN # 20999
Rachel Lee
Fri. 11:45 a.m.–3:25 p.m.

Food and Farming in San Francisco begins with a broad overview of our current industrial food system and its many attendant societal problems, including widespread food insecurity, massive food waste, and growing food deserts. Next, we explore local alternatives to industrial agriculture, including urban agriculture, small-scale food purveyors, and more communal and equitable forms of food distribution. Along the way, we will get our hands dirty with garden work days at the USF Community Garden, the New Liberation Garden in the Western Addition, and the Tenderloin People’s Garden; with field trips to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, Off the Grid on Haight, and GLIDE’s Feed the Hungry program in the Tenderloin; and with cooking/preserving workshops in the USF Garden and at nearby St Cyprian’s Church.